7/31: Gone Girl
I really wanted to like Gone Girl, and I thought I might reaaaaally hate it, because I gave up on the book 15 pages in.
"Everyone's an insufferable twat," I told my sister-in-law when I gave her copy back to her, and she asked if it would help to know that that's the point. I thought about it; it didn't help. Fiction is full of people you wouldn't allow to use your bathroom, after all. Everyone in Gatsby is a toad. Any Shakespearean protagonist who isn't drunk or a depressed weasel is incapable of shutting the fuck up for five minutes, and you don't "like" characters in Ford Madox Ford's work, you just hate them less than characters like Florence. Goddamn you, Florence. …Anyway, it's possible to write a character who is hateful or a C-minus ethically and still make spending time with him/her appealing, but for whatever reason, Gillian Flynn could not get that done for me with Amy Dunne. Five-tool off-putting, that lady.
I liked Gone Girl a great deal, in the end. It held my attention with both hands for its entire running time. I liked the performances a lot, with one exception, and while I didn't care for what Neil Patrick Harris did with Desi, Desi isn't a character so much as a set of avenues convenient for the plot to turn onto, assembled into a man shape…one example of the ways Gone Girl falls apart a little bit after the end credits. Another: if Amy's (Rosamund Pike) disappearance is national news, an ongoing tabloid story, why doesn't anyone recognize her when she's "dyed" her hair maaaaaybe three shades darker? Why, for that matter, is she socializing with strangers if she really wants to stay gone? You could argue, and I would, that for a sociopath like Amy, it's almost more important that everyone know how brilliantly she set herself up to get away with it than it is that she actually get away with it — but that doesn't really jibe with the ending, where she's content with an audience of one. Well, two, counting the future spawn, I guess.
Another: it's not going to stay an audience of just one. Again, Amy's disappearance is a huge story; she's already a public figure, to some degree (a foundation for her bent-ness that's deftly done and not overplayed later in the story). She gets kidnapped by Desi, slashes his throat with a box-cutter, et cetera and so on…and Detective Rhonda (Kim Dickens, and I wish she and 'Go (Carrie Coons) would have a show where they drove around and solved crimes together while drinking coffee with bourbon in it, with occasional guest appearances by Tyler Perry) is on Nick's side now, but shrugs that there's nothing she can do to prove that Amy rigged the whole thing from soup to nuts. Okay, maybe there's nothing she can do, though as Couch Baron noted at lunch today, her giving up on it is not consistent with Rhonda's character prior to that scene — but hello, we all know what happened once Serial gained critical mass in the culture. You think a swarm of Redditors isn't going to boil that carcass down to the bones? The story wants us to think Amy's an evil genius, and it's half right, but if she's not smart enough not to get rolled by two codependent hillbillies?
So, it isn't a perfect egg, Gone Girl, but it's fun. It moves right along, it has wonderful darkly funny bits (the literal crickets at the vigil; "we're from Winnipeg," somehow exactly the right place to hail from if you want to shut a talkative stranger down), it got me thinking about all sorts of things, from what we assume about the marriages of others to what we assume about our own, to why movies have such a hard time shorthanding a solid romantic relationship without using sex. And they don't have to; it's not that it's a poor shorthand, and this isn't a quibble with GG. But think about the ways of intimacy in…The Normal Heart, say, and how seldom you see that kind of private moment in a relationship in movies, because fucking is way faster to do what looks like, but isn't always, the same thing. Just one of the things this movie got me wondering about, and that's the sign of a keeper to me.
Tags: 31 Days 31 Films Ben Affleck Carrie Coons Couch Baron David Fincher F. Scott Fitzgerald Ford Madox Ford Gen Gillian Flynn Gone Girl Kim Dickens movies Neil Patrick Harris Rosamund Pike Serial The Normal Heart Tyler Perry